Whenever I see a long communal table at a restaurant, I want to call up the family and say come on, let’s have a meal together, which is exactly what I did after my first visit to Le Pain Quotidien, the new café at Roosevelt Field. The café’s long table made of recycled wood, comfortably seats 18 and stretches halfway across the restaurant.
A communal table has been integral to the LPQ chain since its roots as a bakery in Brussels in 1990. Chef Alain Coumont named his shop Le Pain Quotidien—French for “the daily bread”—first offering fine quality breads and then expanding to open faced sandwiches (tartines) and salads. The table was salvaged from a local flea market.
This is the first Le Pain Quotient on Long Island (there are 238 restaurants in 18 countries) and it is tucked away next to Neiman Marcus. If you enter from the mall, you are greeted by an array of beautiful rustic breads and pastries, which are for sale to take home.
The organic bread is baked fresh every day in their Long Island City bakery and delivered in the early morning. There are five varieties: whole-wheat sourdough, baguette, hazelnut flute, five grain and super seed gluten-free. Many of the bakers here have been with the restaurant since Coumont opened his first shop on Madison Avenue in 1997. Additionally, they have two in-house bakeries in New York City—one at their Bleecker Street restaurant and the other at the Financial District flagship where they offer baking classes and events.
The open-faced sandwiches featuring fish, ham, poultry, are served on organic whole-wheat sourdough, with a gluten-free option available. I chose the pole-caught tuna salad with wild caper aioli and prosciutto, pear and fig with ricotta, honey and arugula. For vegetarians, there are two tartines: hummus with vegetables, walnut, golden raisins and harissa and, one of their most popular dishes, avocado toast with organic chia seeds and citrus cumin salt. Two big hits were mac and cheese made with Asiago and Gruyere cheeses and Tunisian chicken stew, a slow cooked chicken, with capers and olive stew served with quinoa and almond pilaf.
For me, the highpoint of the meal came with dessert. Breakfast is available all day long and I had noticed “Warm Belgian Waffle with organic jam and fresh cream with fresh berries,” so I ordered it for dessert. I was transported back to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York when America and I were introduced to Belgian waffles.